6 Pages


Third-wave politics

In 1990, Judith Butler claimed that ‘[c]ontemporary feminist debates over the meanings of gender lead time and time again to a certain sense of trouble’ (vii). A decade later, it is meanings of politics that trouble contemporary feminism. In current debates the category ‘feminist politics’ itself becomes a site of contestation. This problem of the political is attributable to a broader social conservatism that characterizes radicalism as obsolete and feminism as irrelevant. However, it is also an effect of internal debates that question foundational second-wave narratives of a women’s liberation movement. The emergence of third-wave feminisms can be seen as symptomatic of this contemporary problem. This new generation claims to continue the second-wave work of collective action for and by women.1 However, it also insists that this work requires new models of identity, collectivity and practice. For this reason, third-wave feminism engages in a continual questioning of its very foundation: ‘feminist politics’.